Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Blues Brothers - Soul Man 7" (Netherlands)


Atlantic (1978)

Of all of the Soul Man 7"s I've picked up recently, I think this one might be my favorite.  It was released in the Netherlands and utilizes the band's logo as the sleeve, rather than just recycling the Briefcase Full of Blue artwork (don't worry, that art makes an appearance on the back of the sleeve).

I kind of find it fascinating that considering how big The Blues Brothers were, there's so few pictures of them used on their record sleeves.  Still, this one is bold and really stands out from the pack.  The songs are the same "Soul Man" / "Excuse Moi Mon Cherie" split as are on most of the Soul Man 7"s from this era.

It's a cool add to the collection.  I've picked up a lot of these Blues Brothers picture sleeves and I'm going to try to keep to a schedule of posting about one every other Thursday.

Blues Brothers - "Soul Man":

Blues Brothers - "Excusez Moi Mon Cherie":

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Bows - Burn Out Wrong Suspirations CD


Trace Of The Youth (2016)

I don't know what it is exactly that makes Japanese punk rock so much better to my ears than the kinds of punk being manufactured by the rest of the world.  That's not to say that Japan has the monopoly on great music, but there's just something about the bands over there that elevates up to a higher level than most others.

Bows is a great example of this.  On the surface, they're playing melodic punk rock with odes to Leatherface.  But when you really listen to it, it's immediately apparent how much higher their balloon soars compared to others with the same influences.  Bows are able to mix together the intensity of a band like I Excuse while channelling in the hooks and rampant catchiness of bands like J Church.  The crossbreed they've created is a super energetic band fueled in equal parts by a barely controlled energy and the ability to hide a catchy tune in all of the guitar carnage.

It's amazing to me that after all of these years I'm still able to find new bands that just blow me away with their take on the kind of music that I love.  I've only been to Japan once, but an album like this makes me feel whatever the equivalent is of being homesick for a place that you don't live.

Bows - Burn Out Wrong Suspirations:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Main Source - Breaking Atoms LP + 7" - Clear w/ Orange Vinyl


Vinyl Me, Please (2017, Reissue)

Guilty as charged.  I actually signed up for a month of the Vinyl Me, Please service in order to get this pressing of the Main Source's 1992 masterpiece, Breaking Atoms.  I'm super leery of all of these weird vinyl curation services that have popped up over the years.  They all seem like scams to me; and not the good kind of scam like Columbia House where I can get ten LPs for a penny and then never buy anything.  

Vinyl Me, Please at least allows the option of signing up for one month so you can get the specific wacky pressing that they are offering.  Sure it was a bit more expensive than if I had subscribed for a longer duration, but then I would have been stuck with a bunch of crap records that I didn't want.  This Main Source pressing is exclusive to the subscription, though I do not know how many copies ended up being pressed.  It has super slick packaging, the vinyl itself looks great and it comes with some extra art prints and liner notes.  Not to mention the bonus 7" that has a remix of "Peace Is Not The Word To Play" and the previously unreleased (excluding bootlegs) song "How My Man Went Down In The Game."

The main album itself is one of those golden age hip hop classics.  Put it up next to Tribe Called Quest, Pharcyde, Souls Of Mischief, Del or any of the other greats of that peak early 90's time and Main Source holds up to them all.  Innovative beats, complex lyrics with great delivery; it has everything you could possibly want out of a record.  If only there were records this good still being made in the world of hip hop.  I'm sure there's something out there I'm missing.  Send some recommendations.

Main Source - "Snake Eyes":

Main Source - "Lookin' Out The Front Door":

Monday, September 25, 2017

Lost Balloons - Liquor Store 7" - White Vinyl


Wild Honey (2017)

I'm not sure if you want to call this a follow up or a companion piece to last week's Radioactivity review, but this Lost Balloons single was released at roughly the same time by the same label.  I also bought them together and both bands feature Jeff Burke, so they're intertwined in some way for sure.  Lost Balloons is Burke's collaboration with Yusuke Okada, who most know from Suspicious Beasts but I'll always know him from being in Blotto, one of my favorite Snuffy Smiles bands.

The two songs on this Lost Balloons 7" showcase two very different styles that the band is working within.  A side "Liquor Store" is a fast, lo fi blast of fuzzy guitar pop.  It's a style most closely linked to Jeff Burke's other bands.  Frankly it's a great song, big and powerful - though clocking in under a minute and a half, I can't help but wish it went on a bit longer.

On the B side we have "Dirty Sandy."  This one plays more to Yusuke Okada's strengths.  It's got that sort of boozy psych feel that you'll find here and there on Suspicious Beasts' records.  I can't say I like it as much as the A side.  Even on Suspicious Beasts albums, I tend to favor the songs that are a bit faster and louder than this one.  I'd say this 7" is more for completists.  The A side is really short and the B side isn't anything to write home about.  There's no way I wasn't going to buy it, but you may want to check the songs out before you dive into those import shipping fees.

Lost Balloons - Liquor Store 7":

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Browntrout - Long Good-Night LP


Mostoff (2013)

To me, this record kind of represents my failure in keeping up with Japanese punk rock over the last few years.  I had gotten the first Browntrout album, Stepping With Fuzzy Ideas, right when it came out (though that didn't stop me from mistakenly ordering a 2nd copy of it recently - don't worry, I found it a good home).  Then, I never really heard anything more from Browntrout.  Apparently I missed the fact that they put out a single or two and an entire full length album.  On vinyl no less.

Happily, I'm correcting my ignorance and filling in some holes on incredible records that I missed out on.  Long Good-Night absolutely fits the bill when I say incredible.  This is a band that has a knack for packing tons of energy into each song.  The vocals remind me a lot of the band Blew (although I hear just a bit of early Husking Bee in there too), especially the way they pop in all of the choruses.  Musically, I think Browntrout is sort of like a louder, faster version of early Your Pest Band.  Back when they were only hinting at a 60's influence but were still very much a fast rock band.

Browntrout takes those 60's vibes, but keeps everything churning along, cramming in more hooks and more dynamic guitar until the album is practically bursting at the seems.  If you can't tell, I love this damn record.  I can't believe I was four years late in picking it up.  Don't wait another moment longer than necessary to add to your collection to.

Browntrout - Long Good-Night:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Radioactivity - Infected 7" - White Vinyl


Wild Honey (2017)

I picked up this import Radioactivity 7" along with a Lost Balloons one that'll be reviewing in the next few weeks.  The postage was expensive, but man are these Radioactivity songs worth it.  I feel like if you told Jeff Burke of Radioactivity/Lost Balloons/Marked Men/etc that he wrote the best pop punk songs in the world right now, he may not appreciate that description as some folks take offense to the term pop punk.  But for me it's totally true, there's really no one doing it better.

Burke has a unique way of mixing his strained vocal melodies with wild chord progressions that always veer off somewhere unexpected, but amazing.  He writes fuzzed out pop songs differently than the rest of the world, elevating the form while still keeping things fast, catchy and exciting.  If you wanted to argue that Jeff Burke writes the best hooks in all of music, that's an argument I would definitely take under consideration.

These two new songs are as good as anything Radioactivity has previously released.   "Infected" is a quick blast of dark lyrics and escalating chords.  It's just so damn catchy that it should be in every jukebox in the world.  "Sleep" has a similar tempo, but the way the vocals are delivered makes it seem just a bit slower than the A side.  It's still a smash hit and both of these songs have me eagerly awaiting the next Radioactivity full length.

Radioactivity - Infected 7":

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags & Codes 2xLP - Blue Vinyl


Interscope (2017, Reissue)

Source Tags & Codes is one of those albums that I just love.  There's something epic, perhaps even pretentious about it, but that doesn't stop it from being a forceful piece of music that really just hits me.  When I had read that they were reissuing it as a double LP with a few extra tracks, it seemed like a no brainer to pick up.  Having received it, I wish I would have done a bit more research.

My main issue is the fact that pretty much all of the newly added tracks are just instrumental interludes tacked on to the existing album.  I guess I was expecting real songs, but that's on me for not looking into what the new songs were before ordering it.  I felt a little rushed as the blue vinyl had quickly sold out at one store so I was already on my back up.  That's another thing, you'd hardly know this blue vinyl was actually blue without holding it up to the light.

Had I not already had an original pressing of this album already, this is a must purchase.  It's just simply a wonderful and dynamic record filled with passionately played songs and just the right mix of rage and pop.  If you already have the first pressing, there's nothing on this that really warrants picking up a second copy.

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags & Codes:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Short Straw Fate - For the Heroes in My Record Rack CD


Fixing A Hole (2017)

I'm going to give a little marketing tip for any bands that specifically want to target me.  If you name your band after a song by Broccoli, that's a one hundred percent guarantee that I will listen to your album.  Now, if your band happens to be as flat out amazing as Short Straw Fate is, you can safely assume that I'm going to be listening to your album all the damn time.

Not only are Short Straw Fate named after a Broccoli song, but they happen to be named after one of my favorite Broccoli songs.  They also very obviously take influences from Broccoli as well as many other bands that I know and love.  Whether they are drawing from the octaves and melodic punk of the 1990's UK scene like Hooton 3 Car and Reverse or the fast paced, breakneck hooks of their own world of Japanese punk rock pioneered by bands like Snatcher or Blew, Short Straw Fate just delivers perfect hit after perfect hit on their debut album.

Now, I will say that I'm not as into the two really short and fast hardcore songs.  They sound a little jokey to me, and I would have happily replaced them with another smash pop hit.  That minor criticism aside, For the Heroes in My Record Rack is hands down one of the very best records I've heard all year.  It's could be the best punk rock album I've listened to in 2017.  If you are going to tailor make a band that combines all the best elements of bands I want to listen to, you're not going to get much better than Short Straw Fate. I love this record.

Short Straw Fate - For the Heroes in My Record Rack:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Blues Brothers - Soul Man 7" (US Picture Sleeve Version)


Atlantic (1978)

I woke up late today, so in order to do a quick review, I've jumped another Blues Brothers 7" to the front of the line.  Otherwise I would have had to skip today's post.  This is another version of the Soul Man 7".  There are more Soul Man variants than any other Blues Brothers release, but this is your tried and true, basic US edition that came out in 1978.

Most of the various Soul man releases use some version of the Briefcase Full Of Blues artwork and this is no exception.  In fact, it simply is the Briefcase art, just with a white border around it.

On the B side we once again have "Excusez Moi Mon Cherie," the lone exclusive B side in the Blues Brothers discography.  There's nothing special about this particular version of the Soul Man 7", but it is the cornerstone that you need to build off of when you're collecting their singles.

Blues Brothers - "Soul Man":

Blues Brothers - "Excusez Moi Mon Cherie":

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Sleeping Aides And Razorblades - Save The Right Thing 7"


KiliKiliVilla (2017)

Before I went to Japan, I hadn't ever heard of the label KiliKiliVilla.  Since that time, I've found that they may be one of the best labels out there.  Everything I've heard from them has been knock-your-socks-off great and this 7" by The Sleeping Aides And Razorblades is no exception.

Every song on this 7" is big on hooks and even bigger on melodies.  Sleeping Aides And Razorblades share some similarities with label mates Not Wonk, particularly in the vocals.  The guitar tones have that hint of reverb on them that sounds otherworldly, though it's never to the point where you'd ever mistake them for a surf band.  They combine this swirling, dreamy guitar with an upbeat power pop sound that I just love.

This was a 7" that was recommended to me by a friend. I wasn't familiar with this band prior to that.  A quick review of discogs shows me that this is a band that has been going for a while now and has quite a few other records.  Looks like I've got some shopping to do...

The Sleeping Aides And Razorblades - Save The Right Thing 7":

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Jetpilot / Cinnabar - Split CD


Urban Sleep Discs (2009)

If there's one thing I love, it's being sent records to review by Japanese record labels.  For whatever reason, they always seem to know just what I need to listen to.  Call it common ground or say that I'm easy to pigeonhole, they seem to put out the best stuff.  Even when the bands in question aren't Japanese, as is the case with this split CD.

Both Jetpilot and Cinnabar hail from Sweden.  That's another country that I have a real soft spot for.  So many great bands have come from there.  I had reviewed another Jetpilot EP a few months ago.  I dug that one and I like their contributions to this split just as much.  Throughout the five songs, they pull off the sort of crunchy pop that should make any Sugar fan sit up and take notice.  The highlight of the bunch is "This House."  It's just a masterclass in crunchy guitar power.

Cinnabar isn't really too dissimilar from Jetpilot.  While it is a cop out to say that they sound the same, they definitely seem to draw from similar inspirations.  This is really the sort of pop core I love.  There is big, dynamic guitar work on the fast songs, squalling out with a chaotic, but still melodic sound.  "A Modern Taste" may be the best song on this entire EP and provides the sort of loud, crushing hooks that remind me quite a bit of Starmarket.  Cinnabar is also very capable when it comes to the more restrained, slower songs as evident by "Blue Movie." For me, the best slow songs always build to a noisy chorus and this one does that nicely. 

Unfortunately I can't find these songs streaming online anywhere, but trust me, they're all pretty great.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Capitalist Kids - Brand Damage LP - Yellow w/ Pink Splatter Vinyl


Brassneck / Eccentric Pop (2017)

For the uninitiated, Capitalist Kids are pretty much the best modern band playing the sort of straight up, 90's influenced pop punk that I love.  We're talking Mr. T Experience & Zoinks caliber tuneage  here.  There's no one doing better in 2017.  

That being said, even though I do really like this record, it's a bit of a let down for me when compared to prior releases of theirs.  It actually has nothing to do with the music at all.  The band is still cranking out ultra catchy songs with the sort of dynamic choruses that other bands wish they could craft.  It's really the subject matter that is a little lacking for me this time around.

Typically, the Capitalist Kids split their subject matter between witty love songs and politically themed ones.  This time out, the split is skewed dramatically towards the romance side of things, though I do think that part of that has to do with all of the songs being so short.  Only two of the fourteen clock in at over two minutes.  

I've always preferred their lefty pop myself as the band has a real knack for wrapping their heads around complex thoughts and serving them up in a wry and fun manner.  That's missing on Brand Damage a bit, but the songs still soar.  For those who miss the glory days of poppy punk rock from the 1990's, you're not going to find a band doing it better than Capitalist Kids.  Hell, this is miles better than that Mr. T Experience record that came out this year.  It's absolutely worth picking up.

Capitalist Kids - Brand Damage: